Monthly Archives: August 2009

Authentic France Travel Tip #44: Bring Your Babe

This is Clem as a newborn, before evolving into a hair-raising, hell-bent-for-election toddler.

Babies seem to be abounding at the moment. Not only are all of us Bradbury / Germain / Beaudry’s enthralled about the arrival of Mademoiselle Anna Sophia, but one of my favorite readers softinthehead also welcomed a gorgeous petite-fille, Annika.

So I will not even attempt to fight the baby theme for this week’s “Authentic France Travel Tip“. If your life (lucky you!) includes a new baby, this does not, as many people believe, preclude adventures in France.

I travelled back and forth between France and Canada with all my girls as babies, and I personally think the 0-10 month stage is a great time for family travel, especially to France.

Here’s why;

1. The French LOVE babies. If you travel with a baby you will instantly become the most popular person in the room (well, second to your baby, that is). You will make friends and experience extraordinary gestures of hospitality that are truly very touching and special.

2. If you stay in a vacation rental you can accommodate baby’s sleep and eating schedules just as if you were at home. Also, if baby has a little or big cry, you are not bothering anyone like you would be in a hotel.

3. Babies are generally great companions on flights. You feed them a bottle (or boob), pop them in the travel cot on the airplane, and then go on to enjoy your movie and meal. Caveat – the same CANNOT be said for toddlers!!! Clem’s 7 hour trans-Atlantic scream-a-thon is seared in my memory.

4. Babies force you to go at a slower pace, which we often otherwise don’t allow ourselves to do – even on vacation. The entire family might find that by travelling at baby’s pace, going home to have afternoon “naps”, etc. they are enjoying themselves and relaxing far more than if they were racing around trying to see every chateaux listed in the Eyewitness Guide. Babies force you to slow down and enjoy the little, humble pleasures in life, which is really what France is all about.

Please note that I cannot dispense the same advice in regards to toddlers. My girls were (and are) all particularly independent, obstreperous, danger seeking toddlers. I found travelling with them during the learning-to-walk to comprehension period (which runs roughly, in my experience, between 10 months to 2 and a a half) really, REALLY hard.

Other people may have had very different experiences travelling with their toddlers, but I think it is wise to cram in any trips when the babies are still in that lovely “potted plant” stage of life.

So to all you babies out there – bienvenu en France!

Comme promis!

Comme promis, here are the first photos of Anna Sophia Beaudry who, like Julia Child, came into the world RAVENOUS.

Needless to say, this aspect of her personality ensures that she fits right in with our family on both sides of the Atlantic.

She has to wear mittens because otherwise she tries to eat her hands. What else is a girl to do when no-one is offering her food???

Thinking about the next meal…

I know this is highly unoriginal, but I’m having a hard time getting my mind around the fact that my baby sister has a baby of her own now.

Proud Papa.

Bienvenue Anna Sophia Beaudry!!!

Anna Sophia Beaudry (she has a ‘lil bit of Frenchitude already with that last name) arrived yesterday at 2:45pm.

She had everyone on tenterhooks until she finally made up her mind to come out, but when she did she came FAST and, miraculously with our family, not via a C-section. Maman, Papa, and bébé are just fabulous.

Photos to follow…

Incoming Niblet!!!

My little sister Jayne just went into the hospital to be induced so that her first babe will start to feel a little more motivated about checking out the big world outside the uterus.

We are all so excited! Tomorrow is Jayne’s Birthday too, so she might be getting quite the B-day present. I will be sure to post photos as soon as Niblet’s much anticipated arrival finally occurs.

A Demain!

Authentic France Travel Tip #43: Watch Julie & Julia

Nora Ephron’s movie Julie & Julia is a chocolate-mousse of a treat; utterly decadent, thoroughly pleasurable, and surprisingly profound.

I went to see this film last night and Meryl Streep’s astounding incarnation of La Julia as the French would refer to a grande dame (in every sense of the word) such as Mrs. Child is just loaded with Frenchitude.

With me were my sister Suzanne – who has a solid claim to Frenchitude for her name alone, my Mom, and my beloved aunt Sharon (who told me over dinner that reflecting repeatedly on the phrase “budgie smuggler” from last week’s Frenchitude helped her finally recover from a terrible dental abscess – how could one not love such a kindred spirit?).

The absolutely packed movie theatre audience actually clapped when Julie & Julia was over. When can you last remember that happening? For me, it is lost in the mists of time.

Where do I start?

Firstly, as my sister wisely pointed out it was so unbelievably refreshing to see a movie about marriages that dealt with the life of a couple – two couples here, in fact – with the marriage ceremony well behind them. So often these days movies are all about the ensnaring-and-getting-to-the-alter part. One can almost be excused for forgetting that life, and love, can continue beyond the Honeymoon.

Both on-screen couples were touching, but the Childs, brilliantly acted by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, were so understated and pitch-perfect that their interactions made me cry at regular intervals. They portrayed such complicity and deep, deep love for one another.

Secondly, Julia Child’s love of France is contagious. She is a perfect example of how people from any country can, and should, adopt France as their spiritual home.

Thirdly, the movie illustrates how home cooking and taking unabashed pleasure in divine food has the power to elevate and transform people’s lives for the better.

Granted, Julie Powell and Julia Child are extreme examples of this. However, they both embody the simple truth that every single moment of pleasure in life is one moment that nobody can ever take away from you, and that delicious, authentic food (and wine) is one of the richest sources of such moments.

Julie & Julia shows us that, contrary to what society often tells us, we should banish guilt entirely and embrace the opportunity to feast on food, and consequently feast on life.

In my not-so-humble opinion, watching this movie is essential preparation for any trip to France, or just for your next trip to the grocery store.

And, bien sûr, Bon Appétit!

*Sniff*

I just cashed in some of our British Airways points to buy Franck’s ticket to Burgundy in November. He’s staying at La Maison des Chaumes from the 6th through to the 26th while I fend for myself here with the Bevy.

I have to say that while I am happy for him, and know the trip is necessary in order to look after the vacation rentals, I am still a bit choked that I’m not going.

Nevertheless, whenever I start feeling down I do two things. First, I reflect upon our most recent crossing of the River Styx (aka our recent trans-Atlantic plane flight with an 18 month old Clem). This goes quite a ways in assuaging my grief. Secondly, I mentally prepare my French shopping list for Franck, which includes (in no particular order):

1. some wine from Claire’s

2. Nestle dessert chocolate for baking

3. dark 72% chocolate from E.Leclerc (for eating with my afternoon coffee)

4. fleur du Sel

5. Amora Dijon mustard – mi-fort

6. the latest “Campagne Decoration” magazine

7. baby present from my incoming-any-day-now niece or nephew

8. huge thing of Herbes de Provence

9. sachets of bouquet garni

10. several jars of Bonne Maman’s Confiture du Lait

11. A Saint Vincent statue to set up a little Bacchanalian shrine at our our house here…

As you can tell, the list is going to be VERY long. Come to think of it, I may send him with a few extra suitcases.

Authentic France Travel Tip #43: Enjoy Paris in August

We have all heard about the wonders of “Paris in the Springtime” and, true, it is a pretty nice place to visit in April, May and June.

But I’m not here to tell you things you already know! Instead, I’ll let you in on a little secret…my friend Joelle, owner of the très wonderful l’Atelier de Beaux-Arts right beside the Jardin de Luxembourg, always tries to take her summer holidays in July.

Pourquoi? This long-time Parisienne has discovered a secret that most tourists haven’t figured out yet – there is no better month than August for enjoying Paris.

Travel lore has it that Paris is hot, polluted, and over crowded in August. We spent a week there two summers ago and I can personally attest that this is just not so.

True – there are a fair number of tourists visiting Paris in August. However, their number cannot come close to compensating for the mass exodus of native Parisiens in search of the seaside for at least four out of their five weeks of annual holidays.

The upshot? Paris is practically a ghost town in August, which is largely why Joelle (and yours truly) love it so much.

Here are some more good arguments for taking a little Parisian escapade in August:

1) Fewer Parisiens = fewer cars & motos = hugely reduced air pollution.

2) Fewer Parisiens = less crowded museums, restaurants, and shops.

3) There is free parking all over Paris during August, and traffic is hugely reduced.

4) The much-loved left-wing mayor Bertrand Delanoë began a tradition in 2002 where several areas along the banks of the Seine are transformed into “beaches” with free events, music, and even sand! This phenomenon is called “Paris Plage” and has become hugely popular with locals. Why shouldn’t the savvy tourist also join in the free festivities?

5) Those sultry August nights are perfect for taking bateauxmouche trips along the Seine, or playing around the Louvre’s pyramids into the wee hours.

6) The warmth of August constrasts perfectly with the cool of a legendary Berthillon ice cream (take my word on this one).

Pleasure is all about contrasts, after all.